Have you heard of Superoxide Dismutase, usually abbreviated as SOD? It’s one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, found in each of our cells and in some dietary sources.
It’s no surprise that some of the best sources for antioxidants in the natural world are from plants. Plants rich with complex nutrients, tannins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and polyphenols tend to have the highest levels of antioxidants and SOD.
Dietary SOD from Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn is one of the most nutritious plants in the world and it’s also one of the greatest natural sources of dietary SOD. Researchers believe the antioxidant action found in sea buckthorn (plants in the hippophae family) is closely related to its polyphenol content. We will dive deeper into sea buckthorn’s antioxidant benefits and actions later in this post. First, we will break down what SOD is and how it works in the body.
Back to Basics- Oxidation, Free Radicals, and Antioxidants
“Antioxidants” have become such a buzzword in the past few decades that the average person might not understand what the termreally means. We’ve all heard that “antioxidants are good because they can stop free radicals in the body”. To understand what SOD is and what makes it special, it’s important to understand the process of oxidation as it relates to our cells.
Our bodies contain an entire universe of cells and the complex functions that take place inside them are what make our bodies work. Electrons are one of the tiny building blocks that make up atoms along with neutrons, protons, and electrons.
These particles are even smaller than the cells that make our bodies work, and electrons are one of the main ways that our cells create energy. In short, the chemical reactions from electrons are crucial to the function of our cells.
As you may remember from biology, electrons are found on the outside structure of an atom. Electrons have a negative charge and their arrangement or shape along the outer edge of atoms depends on the substance.
Oxidation + Free Radicals
Free radicals contain oxygen and an uneven number of electrons. Free radicals travel around, bumping into other molecules to find a match for its missing electron. Think of electrons as magnets they naturally attract other electrons.
When a free radical takes an electron away, the once stable molecule is now in an oxidation process and becomes a free radical.
Oxidation occurs when electrons transfer to another molecule. Free radicals are considered highly reactive because of the way they tear through the body looking for electrons. They are highly reactive to oxygen.
Oxidation is a Natural Part of Metabolism
While we tend to think of oxidation as a negative process, the reality is that some oxidative reactions are the key to some of our cell’s most important processes.
Oxidation reactions are a way that our bodies break down fuel to make our cells work. Our bodies oxidize glucose with the air we breathe which in turn creates energy and releasing carbon dioxide in a process called cellular respiration.
Oxidation is a normal process and is a result of metabolism in our bodies.
When is Oxidation Bad?
Sometimes, oxidation of the cells in the body occurs at a rate higher than normal than needed for our biological processes. When the level of oxidation reaches unhealthy levels, it’s called oxidative stress. It’s believed that oxidative stress can lead to health problems or even chronic diseases.
Antioxidants come in many forms including dietary sources. What they do is right in their name- they fight oxidants in the body’s cells. You are already familiar with some of the better-known dietary antioxidants like Vitamins E, C, or A. Polyphenols are another important group of antioxidants that do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to plant based sources of antioxidant support.
Now we have a basic understanding of what we mean when we say “antioxidants, free radicals, or oxidation”. So, what is superoxide-dismutase and what does it do? A good way to understand SOD is to break down its name into two parts. Why? Because much like the word antioxidant, what it does is right in the name.
What is “Superoxide”
Superoxide is produced in the cells of the body and is the byproduct of other metabolic processes. The mitochondrion of the cell produces superoxide when electrons leak out of the inner membrane of the mitochondria. It’s a free radical compound which contains a superoxide ion. Superoxide is thought to be one of the most major factors when it comes to oxidant toxicity. Some researchers now believe that superoxide produced in the body is the key free-radical related to aging and oxidation related diseases.
What is “Dismutase”
Any of various enzymes that catalyze the reaction of two identical molecules to produce two molecules in different states of oxidation or phosphorylation. Without dismutase, superoxide radicals would build up and shut down the function of cells in the body. Mitochondrial SOD is a crucial defense against superoxide.
SOD- the Cell’s Insurance Policy
The cells in our bodies contain superoxide dismutase in a few different forms -called isoforms. They’re distributed in the different parts of the cells, in the nucleus, within the mitochondria, and in the cytoplasm of the cell. SOD that comes from the mitochondria is called mitochondrial MnSOD enzyme. Cellular SOD is so crucial to human health that the lack of certain types can be fatal to those born without it.
If our bodies produce SOD, why should we take it as a dietary supplement?
When it comes to the science, researchers now believe that SOD has therapeutic potential, especially for complex and chronic health issues like cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or insulin intolerance. As we learned earlier, many chronic illnesses are related to higher-than-normal levels of oxidation in the body among many other complex factors. Scientists are just beginning to understand the potential for using SOD therapies for dealing with chronic health issues.
Who Might Benefit from SOD Supplementation?
In general, as we age our bodies begin to slow down and as we learned earlier, as we age superoxide levels rise in the body. Anyone looking to support their health as they age may want to consider SOD as a dietary supplement to help naturally support the body’s antioxidant systems.
Sea Buckthorn as a Source for SOD
When it comes to any dietary supplement need, finding a source that is naturally complex in nutrition is always the best option over isolated compounds. Why? Well, in the case of sea buckthorn oil supplements you’ll find an extraordinary array of antioxidants like SOD, polyphenols, along with rare fatty acids such as Omega 7 which is found in sea buckthorn berry oil.
Sea buckthorn is a rare super-fruit from the Himalayan region that has evolved to have an impressive amount of nutrition due to the harsh climate it comes from. When it comes to food grade sea buckthorn oils, most of the natural compounds remain even after processing. The result is a “whole” supplement oil that provides fatty acids and antioxidants that work together to help support your health naturally.
Sea Buckthorn’s Full Antioxidant System Provides Positive Effects
While sea buckthorn oil contains dietary SOD, it seems that the other important antioxidant compounds, like polyphenols found in the plant, also play a major role in increasing the natural antioxidant enzyme response of the body. In short, while it does seem to be helpful to consume dietary sources of SOD, the studies seem to show that the overall nutritional package of sea buckthorn plays the biggest role in activating the body’s antioxidant response.
Science Backed Benefits of SOD from Sea Buckthorn
We know that researchers have taken an interest in better understanding SOD and possible therapies using the power of SOD in general. However, we are most interested in the benefits of SOD from sea buckthorn products and sea buckthorn oil specifically. The good news is that many new studies have focused on sea buckthorn oil’s SOD content and its potential benefits. Here are some of the main benefits.
One study looked at sea buckthorn seed oil and tried to observe how cells responded to oxidative toxicity when treated with sea buckthorn seed oil. Sea buckthorn seed oil is often overlooked because it has little to no of the famous fatty acid omega 7. However, this bright yellow oil has impressive amounts of antioxidants and plant-based omega 3 fatty acids.
Researchers noticed that sea buckthorn seed oil increased the antioxidant activities of SOD enzymes and others such as glutathione peroxidase. This research shows that sea buckthorn seed oil should not be looked over as a rich natural antioxidant.
Anti-Aging Effect of SOD from Sea Buckthorn Oil
Researchers interested in the potential antiaging benefits of sea buckthorn oil at the gene level. Once again, researchers focused on sea buckthorn seed oil for their study. By monitoring antioxidant enzyme activity and related gene expression, they were able to study the amount of oxidative stress and thus the anti-aging mechanism of sea buckthorn oil.
Sea buckthorn seed oil significantly reduced oxidative stress and most importantly, showed a marked increase in activity of SOD and other antioxidant enzymes. They were able to show that sea buckthorn seed extract improved the activity of antioxidant enzymes resulting in an anti-aging effect.
Liver Oxidative Damage Protective Effect of SOD from Sea Buckthorn Leaves
This study differs from the other because it used an extraction from the leaves of a sea buckthorn plant. Many of the same phenol rich compounds exist throughout the plant in different levels. Researchers were interested in the possible benefits of the phenolic compounds of sea buckthorn leaves to oxidative stress on liver cells.
As in the other studies, researchers observed that the antioxidant enzyme activity was greatly increased in subjects treated with the sea buckthorn compound. The results showed that along with boosting strong antioxidant activity, the sea buckthorn compound prevented oxidative damage and protected liver cells.
SOD from Sea Buckthorn for Supreme Antioxidant Support
As we have learned, sea buckthorn oil is an excellent source of and booster of SOD enzyme action. With many potential health benefits, plants rich with complex antioxidants like sea buckthorn are proving to be some of the top sources for increased antioxidant activity in the human body. The best part is that almost everyone can enjoy the rich health benefits of sea buckthorn oil with many different options for supplementation and skincare. SOD is a crucial part of keeping our body’s function going strong as we age.
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